Friday, February 21, 2020

Volkswagen NOT making full-size Beetles anymore? YIKES!

Oh, good grief.

 I just heard the familiar VW Beetle will no longer be made, ending a decades-long production run.

I was a late-comer and pushed a brand new 1971 Super Beetle off a showroom floor.

I took a test drive, learned what I needed to know and drove it home to Burbank. Parked the bright orange beauty in my driveway.

My daughter said it looked like a giant pumpkin!

Well, it WAS Halloween and the trick-or-treaters echoed that thought.

So, that started me on the road to loving Volkswagens!

Over the years since, when I traveled, I would stop at appropriate stores and ask if they had any model VWs.

Many did and, despite not keeping a list, there are no duplicates among the 37  now on display.

The newest to join the group is Disney's Herbie the LoveBug. (I think).

It does not say that on the fluffy car (Hmm trademark violation?)

It did have a tag that said "batteries are included" and, squeezing it,  I heard a faint voice saying "Oh, that tickles" so I guess the batteries need replacing.

If you look closely you will see a single Cadillac and a New York City yellow taxi which I think were made by Checker, specifically designed to be used by NYC cabs.

The Cadillac and a small red VW feature a Christmas tree. These started me and then I decided to concentrate on the German cute car.

I mean, so far I have not ever owned a Cadillac.

Many of these metal, hefty models have functioning doors, back/front hoods that open and a steering wheel that turns the front wheels left and right.

The oddest model in the collection HAS to be the small green one with a martini glass attached.

It sits quietly in the mix until someone spots it, picks it up and says "Huh?"

Saw it in a store by the downtown market in the Historic District that featured imported furniture, decorating artifacts and quirky odds and ends.

Saw it, bought it and still have no explanation of why it was created!

Still keep an eye out for VW shapes and spotted this wind toy spinning its wheels in San Diego on my Christmas visit last December.

When I visited my youngest grandson, on his vacation in upper Minnesota,  Aiden urged us to go to nearby store.

I asked why and he grinned and said "You'll see, Pop-pop!"

In the store, he took my hand, and my daughter Heather and I walked to a model toy cars display and he said: "Pick the two you love the best!" So I did, and I
hugged and thanked him.

He had remembered seeing my collection so, when he saw VWs in the store, he told his Mom he wanted to get me some!

People have asked if I have seen other weird VWs but have no model on display.

My answer is YES, and it struck me as odd enough that I stopped my morning walk in Tallahassee and asked the driver/creator to stick around and ran home for my camera.

From the side, it "almost" looked normal.

But walk around it and you appreciate that the owner - a welder - modified his ride quite a bit.

He said he is often approached and is simply asked...WHY?

From the rear, you begin to see there have been some alterations!

While the wide wheelbase is the same as other Beetles but the upright tailpipe catches your eye.

You continue walking around the car to see what's going on here.
The 3/4 view from the front makes it clear he has cut the car in half.

The wily welder has eliminated the middle and put it back together.

It now has more of a pointed nose instead of the normal rounded front!

The headlights are closer together too, which has to confuse an approaching driver at night!

A peek inside confirms this is now a single-seater.

And, the steering wheel is centered and the dashboard simplified.

There was no flower vase as in later models of Volkswagens but it would have ruined the symmetry of the interior.

Maybe there was a backseat but the patient driver said he had to be on his way so the small crowd and I waved goodbye.

These photos have been copied over and over so the quality has taken a hit. But,  I am glad these photos are part of "my VW collection."

Thanks for parking to take a look. Click on the photos and links for more detail.

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Monday, February 17, 2020

Portraits, Politics & Panoramas ..and more Politics

Went downtown last Thursday to have dinner at Hyman's Seafood. There is always a crowd out front but, as a local, I get seated rather quickly.

Eli Hyman, the owner, wanted to encourage locals to come, eat and bring their visiting friends there.

So, years ago, he wisely sent out a VIP card to residents that allowed you to be seated next!

When you discreetly show it at the front door. you jump to the head of the waiting list.

 Yes, I carry that card and dine there often for good seafood at a great price.

I was downtown to attend a 6 pm - 9 pm grand opening of The Space art gallery at 2143 Heriot Street in the neck area of the peninsula. I was heading there after my shrimp & grits dinner.

It had taken quite a while to drive the 12 miles from home in Hanahan maybe because SEWE was coming to town with an expected 40,000 visitors?

But my plan to zip up Rutledge Avenue to get to Heriot street was thwarted by police cars blocking many streets??

Two cars with flashing blue lights at intersections canceled my plans for a quick direct route and I wandered around in light rain, seeking a way to head up the peninsula.

Finally, I stopped and asked a policeman if all these blocked streets were because of flooding?

He stepped closer, laughing and said quietly "Vice President Pence is in town, giving a speech at The Citadel. We were told to ensure NO cars were on Rutledge Avenue, a direct route to I-26 which is also cleared, and on to the airport."

I drove around some more, in the rain, with other confused drivers, circling around in traffic, making awkward U-turns and finally asked another policeman if I could just park behind him, close to Rutledge Avenue.

He said that was OK so I parked, my white car lighted by the pulsing blue lights and listened to an audiobook.

I did text a message to THE SPACE gallery, alerting the owner that traffic from downtown was terribly snarled but that I hoped to eventually get there before the reception ended.

About 10 minutes later, behind me, I heard a rumbling and increasingly loud ROAR as the escorted motorcade whizzed by very fast on its way toward the airport.

In a few minutes, the flashing blue lights were turned off,  the black and white cruisers moved out of the way and the streets re-opened for traffic.

I got to the gallery around 8 pm, signed in, sipped a glass of white wine and looked at the photos displayed, all taken by female photographers for this opening exhibition.

I quickly saw why POLITICS was in the announcement: there were three photos by Callie Shell, of then Presidental-candidate Obama taken as he was campaigning.

I chatted with gallery owner Mark Stetler and he recalled the text message I had sent and agreed it was ironic that the night of his opening, a politician was in town snarling traffic.

It is a bright new space divided into rental rooms for hanging exhibitions and a large studio available for photoshoots. Go check it out.

You know how I do on the photos and links for more details.

Thanks for stewing in traffic with me. It was worth the wait.

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Conrad...uh oh, you have mail!

Well, I finally got to see the 2018 movie CONRAD & MICHELLE.

It was filming on a chilly day at Folly Beach as our island stood in for a Florida beach.

The scene is set poolside in a posh "Edge of America" condo complex and we see the troubled young man sadly sulking as BBQ party-goers all around him eat, laugh and have fun!

The Director shouts "Man in the blue shirt, pantomime telling a joke to the lady next to you, laugh outrageously loud and then walk out of frame."

A passing PA (Production Assistant) mumbles to me as he passes "He could at least have asked you your name. A-hole."

Blue shirt laughs for 3 takes and, as I step away, we see Michelle for the first time!

The Director had placed me in the foreground so I was VERY pleased. 

Maybe the shot would be used in the actual film. 

Later, we were taken by bus back to the holding area for extras and we changed into beachwear.

Now I had on a different shirt and red shorts, pretending to NOT be chilled. 

Bused back to the beach, I settle on the sand, chatting with my companion on the blanket as the crew sets up in the background. 

Shuffling over to us on the sand,  a different PA comes up and says I have to exit the scene. Another guy takes my place.

"Huh, why?" I ask. 

"The Director says you were so prominent poolside, we can't use you again in a beach crowd scene."

Well, I like the sound of THAT! Maybe my laughing scene will actually be selected in editing!

As an Extra, we are paid for an entire 8-hours so my short day still worked out. 

And, because I "spoke" (laughed) on camera...maybe something even better will happen!


I looked at the end of the movie and "Blue Shirt" is not listed in the credits!

OK, you know I suggest you click on the photos and links for more details. 

Thanks for joining me on a movie location shoot for a sad and troubling theme movie about online text bullying and teen suicide.

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Saturday, February 08, 2020

Art imitating Life...and vice versa

 Looking at the newspaper today, I always check the comics.

I joke that's where I see what the politicians are doing.

I have used that line for years.

But, I do always read the comics - in black and white during the week - and full color on Sunday.

I remember while growing up that the Mayor of New York - Mayor LaGuardia - during a newspaper strike, read the comics over the radio so the kids didn't miss the funny fare in the newspaper.

That's a long leadup to why this photo is being re-blogged.

A buddy of mine and I were at the Hippodrome Theater in downtown Charleston, S.C. on September 16, 2009, and while washing up in the bathroom, I posed THIS shot as a joke. I know the date because I looked it up on my blog that I started way back in 2006.

It got an appreciated laugh or two over the years but today, February 7, 2020, I got the ULTIMATE appreciation of my concept of humor.

 Yep, in the national cartoon of Ziggy by Tom Wilson, my idea appeared in the national press via syndication.

OK, it took 11 years for it to happen.

BUT, it DID appear with the same literal interpretation of the ubiquitous sign we all see all the time in bathrooms.

As I said in my blog postings back then, I know it was in the men's room of the former IMAX by the harbor downtown.

I am assuming one also was in the ladies. But that would feature a female employee calling a halt to innovation and self-reliance!

Of course, I am going to contact the syndicate and, hopefully, Tom Wilson, and ask for the original cartoon.

I will make sure to send a copy to Tom so he gets to see my blog posting.

UNLESS...maybe he already had seen it!

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Thursday, February 06, 2020

The Daily Mailbox shuffle

Some days, I don't even bother to walk down the 12 steps and check my mailbox.

In fact, I may just replace it with a trash can.

I now have convinced my newspaper carrier that I will complain less if she will just get the paper on my porch.

This is my version of a 12-step program and I feel strongly they should be only used for the important stuff.

My mail today was another "friendly reminder" from AARP, touting the best new Medicare choices for its senior members.

Each month AARP sends me form letters to mail (my stamp) to my elected officials telling them I am mad as hell and won't take [insert grievance] anymore!

About 2-3 times a month, I get a postcard stating "I will buy your house AS-IS for cash! No commission. No need to make repairs. Contact me TODAY!

I think there is a list - naturally by age - used by the hearing aid people, funeral costs assistance, (one today from a Cremation Society), Estate Planning, Reverse Mortgage from both Tom Sellick or Broadway Joe Namath and either eyeglass vendors or Lasic eye surgery people.

I drive a 14-year old Saturn (it just finally turned 90K miles!) and receive - almost monthly - a final chance to get an extended warranty opportunity - stamped LAST OFFER, every time.

I should be so lucky!

I looked up my very used car on Kelly Blue Book and see it MIGHT fetch $1250. Of course, despite shopping around or trying to combine Home and Car insurance, I pay an outrageous amount for coverage!

Basically just covering my butt from all the insurance companies getting $1million + liability settlements! Dial 333-3333 or all sevens 777-7777.

OK, end of rant.

Now I'll go look at my computer and see ads for anything I might have even casually mentioned online.

Big Bro is at work here.

Alexa and OK Google are not the only ones listening.

Oh, here's a GOOD NEWS last-minute tidbit.....

Not stuffed in the mailbox but next Tuesday, the fine fellows at Play It Again, Sports will deliver a used exercise device replacement for the worn-out treadmill that conked out on me.

They had suggested I NOT invest in a new circuit board for my 6-year old treadmill.

They came up with a well-cared-for TreadClimber TC10, made by BOWFLEX, for something different from a treadmill.

They said it provides low impact on ankles and knees but, they added, you can't run on it like a treadmill.

Haha, I never did run on any of my treadmills.

You know the drill on here...for more details, click on the photos and links.

I was asked why, if my treadmill was broken, didn't I just go for a walk in the neighborhood. Well, DUH, I can't watch ROKU walking on a real sidewalk!

Thanks for stopping by. Come try out my new machine.

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Sunday, February 02, 2020

Some art and culture....

A nice quiet Saturday. A bit chilly, but the rain had stopped earlier this morning.

I slept in because I knew I was not doing anything until meeting a friend later to go downtown.


Fred Davis and I met in a Queen Street parking garage in the afternoon and walked over to the famed Gibbes Museum of Art (C.1905) in the historic district of Peninsula Charleston, S.C.

I like a weekend at a gallery. Especially when I hear and see young children and their parents bonding amid art.

Saw family groups and a single parent with her child wandering and looking.

Some kids tarried to gaze longer some more... and then hurried to catch up with the others.

Small clusters in one gallery and a crowd in the next.

Weekend at The Gibbes.

I grew up just a few blocks down Meeting Street, on the corner of Society Street in Ansonborough, and had visited the gallery often.

Dad was not so attracted to the place, but my Mom made sure her three boys knew their way around our downtown museums.

One painting caught my eye and I asked my friend to stop and take a look.

"I know I am older than you Fred but, growing up, did you ever see the ice wagon parked and reach in to grab some ice chips from the back on a hot summer day?"

Looking at the painting of the iceman, with his ice tongs draped over his burly shoulder, I recalled the sign Mom placed in the window telling him how large a block of ice was needed that day.

Another piece of everyday life snuffed out by 20th Century progress.

Fred replied he did NOT recall any horse-drawn ice wagons but remembers milkmen who came by early in the morning to place bottles in a galvanized box by their front door.

No horse cart though, it was a white truck we remembered that chugged and clinked when it passed by, he added.

While touring and leaning in for a closer look at the various paintings, I asked Fred to snap a picture of me standing behind a bust.

He too had seen that image in the opening staff credits of Saturday Night Live!

I had promised myself to pose for such a photo someday was my chance.

Nobody else was in the room, so I carefully stepped into the open space behind the carved bust and happily spread my arms!

Guards did not come rushing in. No interruption of the enjoyment of other art patrons. No giggling young people...except for Fred.

A Yawning Leopard caught my eye and instantly reminded me of my 7-year old orange Tabby.

Watching her pure enjoyment when she would stretch...and yawn her gaping mouth ...all at the same time as she flexed ALL of her claws. My, my, pure pleasure!

I did get another stifled laugh from Fred as we toured all three floors of galleries.

Both of us are avid photographers.

We often will zero in on something about a subject that others did not see.

We  both were amused when I promptly quietly re-named a beautiful large wooden sculpture  as "Awkward Selfie."

Another great painting called Charleston In The Rain prompted a comment by Fred that even back then in the 1940s, a rainstorm would flood some streets!

Sure enough,  the details showed a wet street and a bit of flooding.

We understand the city leadership is addressing the problem by planning to raise the height of the 100-year old battery and getting counsel from flood-prevention experts from the Netherlands!

You know how I do things on the photos and links for more details.

Thanks for stopping by to spend some time with me online, looking at art.

Let's do this more often..and tell your friends.

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Monday, January 27, 2020

Some young musicians practice every day.......

Yesterday, I enjoyed an afternoon of teen Jazz musicians and feel encouraged that " jazz music future is in good hands!"

Part of a week-long salute to the genre, these 7 "bands" won well-deserved applause from a packed church a few blocks from my home. 

I walked over wearing my Lowcountry Blues Club t-shirt.

I talked up the weekly Sunday free Blues Jam held a few blocks away.

Then, yesterday evening, I joined the crowd at Smokey's Place.

That's the music-friendly 9-year home of the Blues Club.

There, I praised the impressive young Jazz musicians I had enjoyed earlier.

A great day for a short stretch of Remount Road in North Charleston! 

Not exactly the famed Highway 61 but a good showing.

I was a bit surprised there were not any ads or presence for Forte Jazz Lounge, the new music venue downtown on King Street.

What a natural tie-in with the young and old jazz musicians and - in this case - the VERY interested and involved parents!

Here are a few more views on a lovely Sunday afternoon in Charleston, SC...home of the Blues AND Jazz.

I live in a musical neighborhood indeed.

Oh, there was a special announcement by the bandleader for the youngest group there - Westview Middle School.

"We have a few seasoned players mixed in with our young men...especially Ulysses Corbett, who played with the
Count Basie band!"

"Mr. Corbett is 99-years old * and an inspiration to our young players that music can last a lifetime!"

I spoke with the leader after the show to get the correct spelling of the names.

I found the 13-year old playing trumpet behind the seasoned pro was Wesley Ward, the bandleader's son.

He also admitted that, as a joke, he assigns different ages for Mr. Corbett who actually is "only" mid-seventies.

Be sure to click on the photos and links for more details and information.

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Wednesday, January 08, 2020

How about some Chinese rice for dinner?

Many people like to cook - and do it very well - and I got to see an Asian version close up on Monday. 

My Chinese internet friend who has been living and working in Summerville, left town yesterday morning to return to New York City on the 10 am Amtrak. 

He came down several months ago to get a break from icy weather up north. 
Yeah, right, like so great here lately! 

He was the Chief Sushi Chef at a relatively small Asian Bistro called Red Bowl and lived in an apartment provided by the owner.
He worked 6-days a week with only Monday off.

I would go up to Summerville, pick him up and we would tour a bit of the area before returning him to the apartment in the afternoon.

We stopped at the Bank of America so he could do his monthly wire transfer of cash to his son still in China then we took off to tour.

We rode out to Folly Beach, stopping at the Folly boat recently recovered and now on display again,

We walked out on the fishing pier, ducked into the Sand Dollar dive bar,  and split an Irish Breakfast at the Guinness bar next to THE traffic light. 

I had a half-pint of Guinness. He had tea.

Traffic was light so went all over downtown, both fountains at Waterfront Park (saw the unsightly hole in the ground where the SPA Headquarters had been for years and where a new hotel will spring up to block the harbor view for many.)

He oohed and ahhed at the stately S.O.B. historic mansions, we walked the Low Battery and ambled around taking in the sights.  A quick drive over and back on the Ravenel Bridge so he could get a twilight view of Mount Pleasant.

Stopped at Harris Teeter on the way home to get what he needed to make us a "rice dinner" Monday night. I had no idea what was in store for me to observe!

Heating the skillet until it was red hot, he oiled it and stirred two eggs in and made them crispy scrambled. Two beef sausages were heated and diced, the huge container of white rice was crumbled and added to the hot skillet as he kept the spatula busy moving things around so nothing burned nor stuck to the pan. A wonder to watch! I had plenty of Soy Sauce which he used liberally.

I have trouble making toast!

Being a Chief Chef, he showed me the "tools of his trade", many knives valued in the thousands of dollars were unveiled from his bulging carry wrap. 

In there was his seasoned whetstone and he later sharpened ALL of my knives to a keen edge! 

On the salad he made (half of a head of lettuce), he drizzled his own version of Russian dressing (mustard, mayo, etc) and we ate for a long time! Burp. 

He cleaned everything spotless and we relaxed to use my computer to check with his son that the money transfer had worked and watched some tv.

I have several spare bedrooms and, compared to the Spartan sleeping area he has had since coming to Charleston, he was pleased.

 My Chinese friend Kyle Yu is back in New York now and I hope the weather remains benign for him way up North!

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Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Remember the "good old days" back in 2019?

As has become a New Year Eve activity for me, I drove down to the paper's office for its annual Salute to this year's retirees.

It has been 15 years since I retired and the NYE Drop-In is a chance to stop by and give good wishes for the newly-retired.

A chance to see old faces - and show my old one.

I was reminded by some that they saw my beard last year and others remembered me as clean-shaven.

Many faces in the small crowd were reporters whose bylines were familiar and others totally new to me.

A cadre of older retirees like me was engaged in conversations around the room and I joined a few to catch up.

Oh, and there always is a nice spread of food.

I put my diet aside and sampled pieces of crispy fried chicken, a few biscuits with sliced ham and cheese and a chocolate chip cookie.

Most of these delicious bites are not part of my normal menu but - hey, it's a special time-out day! A new decade beckons.

After some nice conversations, I drifted away to see what was the same and what had changed in the last 364 days.

While I was hired to run InfoLine for the paper, I still had an affinity for the press photographers whose work always pleased me as I scanned my daily paper.

My press photo roots harkened back to the 1960s in San Diego where I was a staff photographer.

I got to chat with this year's retired press photographer Wade Spees and, while neither of us had a camera, we both had Smartphones in our pockets that could capture some great images.

Right after his Summer retirement, we both had attended a Retirees quarterly luncheon and I was armed with a 4x5 Speed Graphic!

He was pleasantly surprised to see such an well as the bulky classic news camera.

Many fond memories of racing to grab the right image while being mindful of approaching deadlines for the morning and afternoon papers.

This was the same situation here growing up when my two brothers and I carried - and tossed - the News & Courier and The Evening Post.

Long after I headed West, the two papers here merged as did the two in San Diego.

All around the building, I saw dazzling photos taken by staffers.

The one in England of a colorful double-decker bus in the midst of a black & white scene caught my eye.

I have a buddy who drives modern buses around London. He will chuckle when I suggest he check my blog.

New to me this year was seeing "lounge areas" scattered around the second floor.

I believe the paper has an in-house ad agency now called King & Calhoun.

I didn't see any pool tables or other recreational break areas.

Understand there are such areas that GOOGLE workers can retreat to for relaxation.

Not sure about another new site I saw near the advertising cubicles.

Did they bring in prospective clients to a cozy retreat area?

Or, was it a place for the ad sales reps to relax and recharge their batteries.

Either way, I seem to recall that room was a designated smoking area. There was one on each of the three floors but I had quit smoking before I was hired so never ventured into the smoky enclosures.

One image I will add to this NYE account.

It was NOT at the downtown newspaper office but IS symbolic of this time of the year.

A friend gave me a small Christmas Cactus plant that I have nurtured along for a few months.

Apparently, it had its first bloom while I was spending Christmas out in California with two of my children.

A nice seasonal happening that always pleased my Mother when her cacti bloomed starting around Thanksgiving and throughout the holiday season.

Happy New Year, everybody!

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